Monday, August 02, 2010

New Ozzy is Definitely Something to Scream About

The self-proclaimed "Prince of Darkness" Ozzy Osbourne has released his tenth studio album of original solo material entitled Scream. Not only is this a major milestone in his career, it is also his first album since 1988 not to feature guitarist Zakk Wylde who left the band last July.

For the greater part of my life, it has always been Ozzy and Zakk--Zakk and Ozzy. I was hesitant to accept any substitute for Zakk, but now that I have heard Scream, I can confidently say Ozzy picked the right guy to join his band. That guy would be guitarist Gus G.

The debut single from Scream is appropriately titled "Let Me Hear You Scream." This track is fun and energetic and reminiscent of the lead single "I Don't Wanna Stop" from Ozzy's 2007 album Black Rain. This song debuted on an April episode of CSI: New York and has gained heavy airplay on both satellite and terrestrial hard rock radio. "Let Me Hear You Scream" is extremely catchy, and it has that "classic" Ozzy feel to it--especially between the first verse and the chorus. Very impressive!

The album's opening track "Let It Die" gave me mixed feelings at first. Immediately after purchasing Scream, I put the CD in my car stereo, cranked it the hell up, and heard some killer riffs. However, I was pretty much disappointed when I heard the verse that followed one minute in. It was monotone, repetitive, and the rhyming was all kinds of cheesy. The scream in the middle of the verse, sounded AWESOME though. Other than those verses I'm not too crazy about (especially the opening one), the song as a whole isn't bad. It features some mad guitar from Gus G., the chorus is memorable, and it sounds very current for modern hard rock radio.

"Soul Sucker" is the song that almost ended up as the album's title track. Originally, Ozzy was going to call it Soul Sucka, but many fans were not thrilled about it. I was one of those fans, and I just thought the name did not suit an Ozzy Osbourne album at all! After much protest, Ozzy (and I'm sure Sharon was involved) had a contest for fans to re-name the album. Scream, obviously, was the name that prevailed with.

Although Soul Sucka didn't sit well with fans as an album title, the song "Soul Sucker" is a favorite track of mine and my metal loving friends. The beginning is very heavy, and some interesting guitar and vocal effects create the sound of "Soul, soul sucker/Soul, soul sucker" before the first verse begins. The lyrics are great, the song stands out as one of the better ones on the album, and it should go down as a fan favorite from the modern era of Ozzy Osbourne albums.

The following track "Diggin' Me Down" begins with a slow, eerily beautiful "Mr. Crowley" or "Diary of a Madman" feel, then it completely rocks out. The playing of Ozzy's new drummer on this song, Tommy Clufetos, is powerful and impeccable. The religious themed lyrics focus on questioning Jesus Christ as the son of God and waiting for his return. Plus, I just love the fact that Ozzy sings the word "sanctimonious." (Yeah, I have a thing for the use of big words in rock songs.) But as great as I think Gus played in this song, I can hear him try really hard to channel the Zakk Wylde magic--in this song more than I can in the others. I can totally imagine Zakk playing that solo, so hearing Gus try to "play Zakk" makes it sound more contrived than it should.

A real hidden gem in the middle of the album is "Fearless." I absolutely love the high energy of this track and the empowering lyrics about having no regrets and not being a follower. I think this song would make a fantastic theme song for one of the World Wrestling Entertainment TV shows or pay-per-views. (Sorry... I had to shamelessly plug my other love in life. But it is true, that song would be perfect for that.)

"Time" is one of two ballads from Scream, and I think it is actually much better than the other one, "Life Won't Wait," that seems to be getting all the attention and airplay. The chorus of "Time" seems so heartfelt and true to me--"This life fading away/This life ticking like a time bomb/Ready to blow your tortured mind." This song really grabbed me for some reason, and it is my absolute favorite from the entire album.

There really isn't a bad song on Scream, and I will gladly play the whole thing from start to finish. That's something you can't say about many albums from this era of picking and choosing individual songs to download. And despite this being the first "Zakk-less" Ozzy studio album recorded in my lifetime, I can say that I have warmed up to the idea of having Gus G. as a permanent fixture in Ozzy's band. If he hadn't been an obviously talented guitarist with the vibrant modern hard rock sound, Ozzy wouldn't have chosen him. I honestly believe the die-hard Ozzy and Zakk fans should really can and should to terms with this big change after hearing all the outstanding songs from Scream.

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